Friday August 19th saw Deveney’s Lughnasa Beer Festival return to The Pod on Harcourt Street for its second year. We weren’t able to go last year, so this was our inaugural outing for many reasons : first time attending the festival itself, first time out with our newly constructed bar, and first time setting up our bar from scratch on the day of the festival. Yikes!
The festival itself was awesome – 300 odd beers from all manner of countries catering for every beer palate out there. I’ll leave it to the beer bloggers who turned up to fully describe the array of delights on offer, but we were tucked in amongst heavy hitters like Rogue, Brewdog and Sierra Nevada as well as the other great Irish micros on the scene at the moment – wonderful company indeed, if not a tad intimidating! The crowd was amiable and enthusiastic, the atmosphere was kickin’, and the pies from Pie Minister were just the thing to accompany all the lovely beer. On more than one occasion over the course of the evening, I dreamt of being on the other side of the bar, sampling my way around the venue, but it wasn’t to be – that Windjammer wasn’t going to pour itself, after all, so someone would need to (wo)man the bar!
The Metalman team brace for impact - before the crowds descend at 5pm.
Thankfully we had enough helpers on the Metalman bar to allow each of us time to peruse the offerings over the course of the evening. Lesson learned #1 : Always make sure you don’t need to drive anywhere after a beer festival, as it can seriously hinder your enjoyment of the event, regardless of which side of the bar you are on.
Our (very) recently constructed bar - a bit rickety once the kegs started emptying, but we made it through. Reinforcing needed though!
Which brings me neatly on to our brand “new” bar - over the past few weeks, we have enlisted the help of some friends to build a contraption that we can use as our festival bar going forward. (For previous festivals, we had either borrowed, or partnered with, other people’s bars, but it’s time to strike out on our own and fly the nest at this stage, I suppose.) Our requirements were that it would be quick and easy to assemble and disassemble, so that one person could manage it on their own, reasonably lightweight for the same reason, but sturdy enough to not fall over if people lean on it while enjoying a beer. We aced the quick’n'easy and lightweight requirements, but sturdiness was somewhat lacking. We worked around this initially by using the weight of our kegs to add a bit of stability, which was perfect – until we started pouring beer, and the kegs started emptying. Who could have foreseen this though? Needless to say, it was adequate on the night, and we learned a few more things about our festival bar requirements – but I do see some more welding in our future! Lesson learned #2 : Lightweight is good, but not falling over is better.
Finally finished mopping up all that water! Taking a deep breath before the doors open to the public - here we go!
While the bar itself took mere minutes to assemble, the fitting of all the dispense mechanisms by contrast was slow and painful – now here was a real learning curve for us. Through some pretty poor planning on my part, we ended up collecting the final components required on the morning of the festival, meaning we would need to build everything from scratch when we got to the Pod. With a deadline of 5:30pm when the doors open, this meant a very well planned strike was necessary to get everything done in time by an amateur such as myself. Unfortunately nothing went to plan, and it was like a car-crash edition of the Crystal Maze. Who could have foreseen that fittings I had put together lots of times before would simply defeat me on the day? I will know in future to bring a mop with me to such events – at least if I have one, I might not need one, which was *definitely* not the case on Friday as I almost flooded the ShaSaaz room with my cooler and line cleaning bottle. Not as much fun as it sounds, honestly.
But 5:30pm came round and we were ready to serve beer – not in exactly the way we had planned to (perhaps we had been over-ambitious with thoughts of split beer lines and water-cooled pythons for a 5-hour event?) but it poured, and it was good. Lesson learned #3 – practice makes perfect, but it’s better not to practice under a live deadline. Annoyingly, we took everything home and re-constructed it in the same way on Sunday afternoon, and it all fitted together perfectly first time, no leaks and no mopping needed. Go figure, grumble grumble.
Overall a fun event, although the manic take-down of all stands at 10:30pm meant it was a somewhat disjointed evening for the exhibitors, particularly those with draft bars. Nonetheless we really enjoyed it, and will be hoping to attend again next year – preferably with bottles instead of taps though!
We took a few pics on the night, they can be seen here.